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Chinese Civil Service Examinations

Updated on October 21, 2011

The traditional Chinese Civil Service Exams

2,000 years of Chinese Political excellence helped to form a model for the future western European and American models of political education standards. In my belief, I truly think that the Qin dynasty and Confucius himself helped to mold the world as we know it, even though most don't even know about this extraordinary political system.

Before the Confucianism standard had set in, the Chinese had a political system stained red with aristocratic corruption. Their methods of controlling the provinces around them consisted of not allowing those below on or below the poverty line from entering the political caste, and at the same token preventing those of minimal salary from participating in any educational systems, thus successfully controlling the playing field around them. This all changed however as the Qin dynasty stepped in and crushed the current system at hand and began to mold the failing society into a much more united country.

The new system of Confucianism Civil Examinations consisted of the following:

1) Keeping aristocratic families from pushing the general population to the side in education.

2) Allowing a fair chance at education, of which included intense studies of the classics, poetry, horseback riding, military strategy, taxation and revenue, geography, agriculture, and above all else, Confucianism ideals on the moral and political levels.

3) Examinations were to last 24-72 hours in isolated rooms to allow for the most intense testing, the Chinese needing only the best to participate in their large bureaucratic numbers to patrol their provinces.

There were three levels of civil examinations: Local, Provincial, and National. The local exams were to consist of knowledge of classics, poetry, and the ability to write calligraphy; this became the basic form of political positioning, allowing for entry level positions as accountants, and information retainers. Next in line was the provincial exams, this including the more intense testing of the classics and heavily influenced by Confucius thinking, their completion the equivalent of a bachelors degree in modern society, the Chinese name for the position as being a "Juren" or Recommended man. After this came the National Exams, which could only be applied for after completion of the provincial training. The training consisted of military affairs and taxation and revenue balance, and more extreme knowledge of the classics. After completion of the national exams, an individual could be qualified for imperial positions within the royal court and such placements.

This Chinese social system is by far the greatest political invention of its day, and by my standards have become commonplace within our American society and European counterparts as well, it's place well deserved to be a part of our ancient social-political history. This system has shown itself in our society in terms of educational stature, from the associates degree, to the bachelors and masters, and on to the PH.D. China should be given credit for it's political feats, even though it's history on more technological advances have been poor until now, it's place in our world set in stone as an up and coming super power, we should heed their style of social status.


Do you think the Chinese Civil Service Examinations of Ancient times helped the Educational Institutions of today?

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    • kschang profile image


      9 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      Should have explained how long ago was this, plus a bit more pros and cons, and how the current Chinese government only very recently revived Confucianism (well, it's a bit of a tangent)

    • Moon Willow Lake profile image

      Moon Willow Lake 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the interesting information.


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